Pay to play your old games on Vita

The long running joke in the video games world is that Nintendo are often re-selling the same game over and over again by way of re-packaging or re-distributing. I mean, how many times have you bought Super Mario Bros.? A new version of this is the HD remake which Sony have adopted as their go to solution for selling old content and that’s fine, most of the games are classics and should be experienced by new audiences. However Sony’s solution for current PSP owners to be able to play their UMD games on the UMD-less PSVita isn’t exactly ideal. Or all that fair.

According to Kotaku, Sony are to launch something called the UMD Passport service on the 6th December in Japan where the UMD Registration App will become available for PSPs. Once downloaded you fire up the handheld, insert a game disc and register it through your PSN account. After said stages, the game will be available to download – for a price. Yep, in order to play your old games on a PSVita, you’ll have to pay anywhere between 80p (¥100) and £19 (¥2400) depending on the title. The former is much more palatable than the latter. At the moment, 40 publishers have signed up to the program offering 200 games with the average price looking to hover at £8 (¥1000). Games like Gran Turismo and DiRT 2 for example.

It should be known that the prices mentioned are discounted and those 200 games will cost more to download for people who don’t already own the UMD but it does make me question why there is any cost at all. If the price was one set fee I could understand that. I could be told it was to cover admin and the cost of setting up this scheme in the first place but differing prices just looks like previous supporters of a product are getting screwed. Sony have also covered their butts when it comes to the prospect of piracy as once a UMD is registered with an account, it can’t be passed on and registered to another allowing more than one owner to receive the discount (via Andriasang).

But hey, on the plus side the scheme also works for the PSPgo meaning finally owners of that ill-fated downloadable-only hardware can play the games which never came to PSN in the first place.

The clone wars

One of the iPhone’s biggest developers, Gameloft, have sat down with IGN to discuss the company’s future and what ceo Michel Guillemot thinks of the accusations of IP theft. Some of Gameloft’s biggest selling App Store games, N.O.V.A, Modern Combat and now Shadow Guardian have more than a striking resemblance to Halo, Call of Duty and Uncharted respectively. Guillemot was asked what he thought about the criticism Gameloft receives when their corporate goal appears to be a mimicking of other already established franchises, his response was simple: “The video game industry has always played around a limited number of themes. There is maybe one new idea a year.” To him, this is good enough reason.

Guillemot mentions the explosion of open-world games after Grand Theft Auto and how most games just copy one another. Guillemot also argued that Gameloft are simply giving its fans with games that wouldn’t necessarily come to the iPhone without their intervention and: “If a type of game is not available, then you should make it. The damaging thing is if you do a bad expression of a good idea.” Inspiration is one thing and continuing a tradition of reusing ideas another but these games go beyond that level of replication. And if you truly believed that only one new idea comes out a year, isn’t the cure to this a dedication to come up with new ideas and not become part of the problem yourself?

I agree and even commend the company for providing gamers with the chance to play these experiences on a system that isn’t their usual habitat but it’s the artistic similarities that a lot of people take exception to. The Uncharted clone, Shadow Guardian could have merely used the idea of Naughty Dog’s adventure game and created its own character and art-style but instead chose to use a protagonist that even shares the same half-tucked shirt as Nathan Drake. And GT Racing, a game that replicates the menu system from Gran Turismo as well as the ideas behind the racer is why the word ‘shameless’ is often used when describing Gameloft’s ethics.

But maybe we’re just viewing them all wrong and these are more of an homage to console and PC greats rather than a profiting off another’s IP. Most if not all the reviews found on the App Store of Gameloft’s prized inspired games are highly positive with gamers stating the similarities are a good thing. So their fans are happy which in tern makes them happy and if the developers of the cloned titles were too bothered, a court case would have happened long ago. And some of the game in question, like N.O.V.A for example, really are very good…

Run to the hills, video games are evil

Ah the British Broadcasting Corporation. Otherwise known as the BBC. Provider of multiple entertainment resources, most recently video games like the downloadable Doctor Who adventures or inclusion of Top Gear in Gran Turismo 5. Oh and both those franchises are also getting iPhone games too. So gaming is great in the eyes of BBC right? That depends on how this coming Monday’s Panorama goes. Despite the company’s foray into the industry, their controversial TV show is said to “reveal the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more,” CVG reports. Yep it’s the old gaming addiction story that the media is so desperate to write about. But it’s true, video games are addictive. As is caffeine. Evil, evil caffeine. Cigarettes are pretty bad too.

Part of the programme will speak with “youngsters who’ve dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day,” who “describe their obsessive gaming as an addiction”. I hope Panorama also speak with the parents of said school-leavers and ask them why they allow their kids to play for so long. Kids that were very likely hounding their parents for the ‘must have’ Christmas toy only a few years ago. Now they seem to be doing the same with video games and the show picks up on this too: “as pester power kicks in and the computer games’ industry launches its latest products on to the Christmas market”. How very dare they.

Lets not judge the quality of Panorama’s reporting or indeed the importance of raising awareness of the latest addiction before we watch the show. Just bear in mind that movies and rap music have already accused of poisoning our youth so it’ll just take the next scapegoat to come along before the video games industry is free of all the finger pointing. And that most if not all issues can be addressed with better parenting.

Gran Turismo 5’s paintwork smudging damage

From its very beginning, the Gran Turismo series has delivered a wealth of highly detailed cars for players to do as they please though one thing was always missing. Damage modelling. Rather than marvelling at the pristine bodywork, we want to see them battered to hell and the upcoming Gran Turismo 5 is said to deliver just that. Well, not quite that because only a select number of cars can be damaged. Oh and the damage looks like someone’s gone mad with the smudge tool in Photoshop. The image above (and more after the break) shows Polyphony Digital’s idea of wobbly destruction that does little to make us believe they took the challenge seriously. I doubt it’ll hurt sales too drastically but the fact that GT5‘s damage is like looking at the car’s reflection in a puddle amused me somewhat.

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Gran Turismo 5 is 90% complete – again.

Is it me or does Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi have a touch of déjà vu? Back in January he told USA Today that Gran Turismo 5 is 90% complete with the team polishing the last 10%. Yet just the other day he told Inside Line (via Video Gamer) That once again, GT5 is now 90% complete but added 140 people are working on finishing it. So either that last 10% is a real bugger to finalise or his maths aren’t quite what they should be. Fans of the franchise will be gunning for the latter, hoping that it’s more like 98% finished but given the constant delays Gran Turismo 5 may end up being a Christmas release. Not necessarily a bad thing for Sony but a nuisance for those who just want to play this long overdue racer.

GT5 demo video and details

Vodpod videos no longer available.

UPDATE: I’m not sure where VG247 or indeed some of the readers downloaded the demo from but I have it on good authority that GT Academy is not on the US PlayStation Store. Bugger.

Fans of Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo series have been scrabbling to their PS3s, logging on to PSN to get themselves a bit of GT5 action with the latest time trial demo (released today in America and Thursday for Europe). What may come as a surprise is its size – a mere 219mb! Is it possible that Polyphony have squeezed all the physics and graphics of a single track, plus its car, into such a small package? Well no. VG247 posted a video of their attempts to achieve the best lap which shows how very detailed the car and handling are, but how bland everything else is. So that’s their secret, take away all non-essential textures. Far enough but not the best tactic when it comes to gloating. Nevertheless, it’s all about the handling which does look very good indeed – if not a little too good. Polyphony appear to be straddling that fine line between realism and fun which should hopefully result in a very pleasant experience. Look out for the GT Academy demo this Thursday on PSN.

Gran Turismo 5 demo ready for Christmas

Prepare for a collapse of Sony’s servers as a demo of Gran Turismo 5 will hit the PlayStation Network on December 17th. Penrose Tackie, European brand manager broke the news on Europes PlayStation blog and enlightened us all that GT Academy 2010 will only feature a time trial mode racing a Nissan 370Z around a “specially created section of a new GT5 circuit.” Bundled within is a competition for 20 people to win a place at a national event racing against the “best Gran Turismo drivers in the country”. To enter we’ll need to play the time trial like crazy and get our best lap time into the top 20. Sounds simple but even the slightest tap on the brake button could be the difference between top winning or losing. For an example of what to expect, have a look at the trailer above (link broken!) here or continue reading to view the Nissan 370Z in all its glory.

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